Emotional support in palliative care nursing: a concept analysis.
Watson, Flora C. T.
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This thesis reports a study that aimed to examine the use of the term emotional support within palliative care nursing. The term „emotional support‟ appears frequently in the nursing literature, however, there is no clear definition of what it is and its application in nursing practice. Thus resulting in a vague and ambiguous term, raising concerns about the evidence underpinning such practice. Palliative care nurses are expected to enable patients, families and carers to cope with their situation by showing compassion and sensitivity. However, the lack of research evidence to clarify the meaning of the term emotional support in their work remains unclear, with little evidence available in the literature by way of attempts to clarify this confusion. This research study set out to address this gap in relation to palliative care nursing. The methodological approach of concept analysis was adopted to help identify, clarify and define the characteristics of the term emotional support in palliative care nursing. The data was collected by means of a literature review, underpinned by a search strategy of relevant databases using key words. Data analysis followed the Walker and Avant (2005a) approach and the main findings showed eight defining attributes for the term emotional support in palliative care nursing. These were „Feelings and Emotions‟, „Communication‟, „Understanding‟, „Caring‟, „Providing Information‟, „Being There‟, „Listening‟, and „Support‟. The defining attributes were then used to construct model, borderline, related and contrary cases to illustrate what emotional support is and what it is not. The thesis concludes that emotional support is an umbrella term which calls on a wide range of nursing skills, behaviours and actions resulting in a multidimensional approach. Further empirical research is needed to explore its multidimensional form and to inform evidence based palliative care nursing practice.